Regardless of whether you’re a veteran baker or a beginner, you probably have a few questions about convection baking – especially when it comes to baking cakes.
Convection ovens cook differently from conventional ovens, making them better suited for cooking certain foods over others. Because of this, many people question whether convection ovens can be used to bake a cake.
Now, whether that’s true or not–let’s find out.
Convection ovens explained
Convection ovens are different from conventional ovens because they have a fan installed inside that circulates hot air evenly throughout the oven, browning food much better and faster. Due to this, convection ovens bake at about 25° hotter compared to regular ovens, which can throw some bakers for a loop.
Now don’t get us wrong: convection is indeed good for baking small pastries, pies, and cookies. However, the general consensus is that convection is not the best choice for cakes.
The batter for a cake is usually lighter than the batter found in other pastries, so the circulating air within a convection oven can change the consistency of the dough. This consistency change can flatten out every air bubble in the dough, making it rise less, resulting in the dough becoming shorter, flatter and/or denser.
For flat doughs that need to stay dense while cooking, convection is a good choice. However, if you haven’t used convection before and don’t know how to use it properly, you could end up with an overcooked or hard, heavy cake instead of something light and fluffy.
Is convection good for baking?
Convection is the perfect cooking method for several dishes such as roasted veggies or fruits, chicken, breads, and pizza. However, while it isn’t ideal for baking cakes, it can bring your scones, cookies, or biscuits to a whole new level. As we mentioned before, the denser the dough, the better it will cook in a convection oven.
However, keep in mind that the fan that is installed in the back of this oven needs to be turned off if you are preparing a quick bread, wet batter, layers, or thin bread doughs.
Foods baked in a convection oven can also sometimes retain more moisture, so the desired crumb consistency can be altered. Something like a Red Velvet Cake would fall apart in a convection oven due to its light structure.
How to use a convection oven for cake making?
Now, convection ovens aren’t all bad. If you use a convection oven for traditional baking, you get perks such as:
- Enough room for several cakes
- Crispier, flakier crusts
- Evenly cooked products
If you decide you want to try your hand at using convection to bake a cake, there are a few simple steps you can follow. Check them out below:
- Preheat the convection oven and reduce the temperature by 25° degrees. For very large cakes, reduce it by 5° or 10°.
- For better heat circulation between two (or more) pans/trays, leaving about 2 inches of space between and do not cover the pans with aluminum foil.
- Before you remove the cake, make sure to check it 10 minutes before the end time of the original recipe, since convection ovens cook faster than regular ovens.
Interested in some more tips for baking with a convection oven? Check out this video:
Baking doughs, pastries and dessert recipes with a convection oven
You probably get frustrated when recipes flop, so there are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening. Here are some tips for baking dough, pastries, or desserts in a convection oven:
- When baking in a convection oven, you can choose between many types of bakeware, including glass; there is no need for special cookware. You can use non-stick, aluminum or glass dishes, the same way you would with a regular oven.
- Do not use containers meant for a microwave because they will burn with convection heat.
- When baking with all racks, bake with the same bakeware. Baking with the same material and size will help achieve a more even level of doneness.
- Skip using cushion-air pans—they don’t work well with convection ovens.
- Lower the temperature to bake dough evenly and achieve a nice level of brownness while still having a perfectly cooked center.
- By lowering the temperature and checking 10 minutes before the recipe should be done, you can prevent cakes or doughs from burning on top.
- In case the cake/dough still burns the top layer, use aluminum foil.
When baking with a convection oven, the temperature is one of the most important things you need to watch out for. While this may seem like a simple enough task, you will also need to tweak the temperature depending on the consistency of the dish.
Bread and cookie dough should be baked at 180-220° Celsius while brownies, cupcakes, or cake batters should be baked at 140-160° Celsius. If you’re interested in baking a cake, the best cakes to try out in a convection oven are chocolate sponge cake, chocolate fudge cake, rocky road cake, coconut cake, and chocolate chip cake.
Convection ovens modes
Convection ovens generally have two modes: convection and convection bake.
The convection mode generates heat from the back and uses a specialized fan to circulate heat. This is ideal for doughs and batters such as scones, cookies, puff pastries. The convection bake mode is perfect for denser doughs such as bread, heavy batter (banana bread), pies and cakes.
Overcoming the convection oven learning curve
If you are not accustomed to convection baking, there is a learning curve regarding temperature or time for baking changes—sometimes both at once.
Regular ovens have radiance heat from the top and bottom surfaces, meaning that a regular oven gives off concentrated heat from the top and bottom and that the center of the oven is cooler. Convection ovens, on the other hand, distribute heat equally throughout the oven, allowing this heat to penetrate to the center of the food.
Remember, the more you know about convection ovens, the better you’ll be able to bake with one! Check out this convection oven buying guide to learn more about how to use a convection oven.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I use different convection oven modes?
Using the different modes on your convection oven will vary from model to model. However, you’ll often to be able to switch between modes by either a button near the other controls, a switch or through the use of a digital touchpad. If you’re unable to figure it out, take a look at the manual that came with your oven or on your convection oven’s website.
How do I keep from overcooking my cakes?
The temperature within a convection oven tends to run hotter than a conventional oven, so adjust the temperature accordingly. A good rule of thumb is to keep the temperature 25◦ lower than what the actual recipe calls for.
Another way to prevent overcooking is by checking on your cakes 10 minutes before your actual timer goes off. By doing this, you can get an idea of where it’s at in the baking process. Just don’t check on it too often! Opening the oven door frequently can ruin even the best cakes.
How do I know if my dough will cook well in a convection oven?
When baking dough products in a convection oven, certain doughs will cook better than others. Is your dough flat? Is it dense or fluffy? The denser your dough is, the better it will cook in a convection oven.
You can also tell if your dough will cook well in a convection oven by checking for air bubbles. Because the heat circulates so evenly, it has a habit of flattening out any air bubbles, so it’s best to stick with doughs that already naturally don’t have much air in them.
How is a convection oven different from a conventional oven?
Convection ovens are different from conventional ovens in that they have a fan in the back that helps to circulate air through the oven interior, resulting in a crisper, more even burn. Most convection ovens also possess a third heating element in the back of the oven, which is why they tend to cook at a hotter temperature than a conventional oven.
Conventional ovens, on the other hand, rely on radiance heat, which comes from heat elements located at the top and the bottom of the oven. This means that the center of the oven is cooler than the top and bottom, resulting in products that are unevenly cooked. However, because of this it is easier to control how products cook within a conventional oven than a convection oven.
Is it worth buying a convection oven?
When it comes to convection cooking, this method works better on some foods than others. If you are primarily a baker who is used to baking with a conventional oven, the learning curve with a convection oven can be steep. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
However, if you’re open to learning a new way of cooking and also find yourself baking meats, vegetables, and other dishes often, a convection oven can bring your dishes to a whole new level. It all depends on a number of factors, such as your taste, cooking style, and skill level.